Cauldron of Knowledge

Cauldron of Knowledge

Print by J.E.C. Williams in the book 'Y Mabinogion', trans. J.M. Edwards (Wrexham, 1901).
Print by J.E.C. Williams in the book ‘Y Mabinogion’, trans. J.M. Edwards (Wrexham, 1901).

There is a Celtic legend called the Cauldron of Changes that you can read on the website, Chalice Centre. I would like to discuss one aspect of this story that pertains to the knowledge of Soul and its transformative effects on human beings.

In the story, a peasant boy named Gwion is hired by Ceridwen to stir and keep watch over the cauldron, which she has prepared for her ugly and hapless son, Avagddu. Because of her great love for the boy, she desired to find a way to transform her son. After studying books of Druidic alchemists, Ceridwen has learned how to make a special brew that can illuminate one with the knowledge of all things, past, present, and future. She carefully gathered all the necessary ingredients into a large iron cauldron, which must simmer for a year and a day. She conscripts Gwion to keep watch over the steaming vessel.

According to the alchemists, tasting three drops of the magical liquid would bestow the aforementioned knowledge. For a year, Gwion stirred the cauldron with a large wooden spoon, and kept the flames burning by feeding it with twigs and leaves. On the last day, Gwion decided to stir the pot sunwise for luck. As he did so, three drops flew out of the pot and landed on his hand, burning him. Immediately, he thrust his hand into his mouth to cool the burn. An instant after swallowing the magical elixir, his mind was illuminated. Worlds upon worlds opened within him, spreading out endlessly into eternity. In an instant, he was made aware of all the interconnections of Nature. He could hear and understand the trees, the babbling brook, the crawling insect. He could hear and understand their music and their languages.

You can read the rest of the story in the above link. What I have described so far is quite intriguing for someone who is fascinated by the things of the Soul.

First of all, this myth reveals the powers contained within the cauldron, which I see as a metaphor for the unconscious psyche. In our stage of evolutionary development, a simple taste of these powers can transform our entire lives. Perhaps in the future, there will be a greater flow of knowledge between consciousness and unconsciousness. For most of us, however, these incidents do not occur all the time. Now, we experience occasional irruptions of the unconscious into our conscious minds. These are incidental, stupendous, and wonderful examples of the powers of the soul, but they are prototypical of what lies ahead for the human species.

After our culture has experienced several centuries of intense emphasis on reason, logic, rationality, and science, the powers of the soul have atrophied. This began to change in the twentieth century, with the increased interest in things of the soul. This is in large part a result of the work of C.G. Jung. We still, however, have a long way to go. The process of evolution takes much time. We know we are circumambulating to a point in history where the powers of the soul will be restored. We see it moving in that direction everyday, especially on the Internet.

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